Thursday, June 18, 2015
"All architecture is what you do to it when you look upon it"
Walt Whitman, realtor's lackey
We get stacks of mail from realtors. Barely literate All Cash! letters stuffed in mismatched envelopes, low-level unctuous appeals from sharks (the Dolphins of the realty waters), and glossy brochures from the high-end operators: the pictures of houses sold Over Asking Price!, the boasts of a realtor's staging prowess. They're a bit of a laugh (well sort of, not really), and get thrown in the trash, pronto. They're evil stuff. But just the other day a high-end realtor managed to trump them all with his latest tactic: pimping out Walt Whitman to make a buck!
"Every home has a story ... and knowing yours could increase its value." (Corcoran)
This is sleazy on so many levels it's hard to know where to start. A few thoughts:
1. 99 Ryerson, blessed neither by landmark status nor even a sodding historic marker, is not for sale. Is the owner of the house aware that Corcoran is using it to try and whip up business?
2. While laudible that our realtor here is a "history buff", his passion appears less authentic when expressed in the context of real estate mailings. Well, I think so, anyway. And let's have some accuracy. The Whitman family moved into 99 Ryerson in May of 1855 (Whitman's father died a couple of months later), and Walt brought the first printed copies of Leaves of Grass back to the house in early summer. He may have done some editing at 99 but the work was essentially written already.
3. Of course, the worst thing of all is the use of Whitman himself in this realty escapade. Whitman, of all people! Sensualist, loafer, "caresser of life," lover of the common man. This Whitman, reduced to a Corcoran icon?
"This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body."
from Preface to Leaves of Grass (1855)
For shame, Corcoran, for shame.